An example of the first is that of a slave who enters the King’s palace but there is a veil or screen between him and the King. Therefore, he is unable to taste the bliss of actually beholding the King. He is caged or confined within his suffocating desires and the fever of his vain hopes and worldly preoccupations. His heart is distracted and he finds salat a burden and a nuisance. He finds neither rest nor repose until he thankfully emerges from it and returns to his beloved dunya.
The second category is the example of a man who enters the King’s palace and the veils between him and the King are lifted. He tastes the exquisite ecstasy of actually beholding the King and standing before Him in His service and obedience. The King brings him near to himself and showers him with kindness and tenderness. He can hardly bear to part from the King, and to part with the ecstasy of being honored by the King, and His attention and His speech. He is in this awesome position enfolded by Allah’s Love and tenderness in all directions, and his heart bows before his Lord in adoration. Thus, his soul finds repose as his body and soul bow before Allah in reverence. He is in the seventh heaven of delight worshipping Allah as though he could see Him, and Allah has manifested Himself to His slave in His words.
So what could be more unbearable than tearing himself away from such intimacy with Allah?
And all this is but a tiny drop in the vast, boundless ocean of bliss to be found in salaat, and merely a glimpse into the mysteries of salaat, and a glimmering of its effulgence.
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There is a mighty difference between one for whom salaat is like a cage, imprisoning his body and his heart in suffocation, and the one for whose heart salaat is sheer ecstasy and delight for his body, and a fragrant garden of beauty for his soul. As for the first, salaat is a prison for his soul, and it’s preventing his body from its destructive desires, or it may be a precious chance to gain forgiveness for sins or Divine Mercy depending upon the share of devotion. Or he can be punished for deficiencies in its performance.
As for the one in the second category, for him, salat is like a garden in which he finds his heart’s peace and soul’s delight, repose for his tired body, a garden for his soul. So he is in utter ecstasy, experiencing a special nearness to Allah, and in an exalted station bestowed upon him by Allah, and he will be granted such elevation as a unique bounty coupled with the reward for salaat.
For kings grant their special nearness as a special reward. For example the magicians said to Pharoah,
“Will we have a reward if we succeed?” (26:41)
“Yes and you will be of those brought near” (7:114)
So Allah has promised them reward and nearness to Himself and that is the greatest felicity.
To be continued…
In other words, establish salat to gain repose from the exhausting distractions of dunya, just as the exhausted traveler finds rest once he reaches his destination and returns to his home and personal haven.
And notice the words are ‘the comfort of salaat’ (Prophet salallahu alayhi wa salam felt fatigued by the worldly labor, he would simply say: “O Bilal bring us the comfort of Salat”…), and he did not say comfort us from it, for such would be the words of one who finds salat a burden, and he is in a state of torture as long as he is praying, and once he leaves it, he finds relief. And this is because his heart is so full of other than Allah. And salat cuts him off from his pursuits and his beloved worldly desires. So he is in agony as long as he is praying. And this is obvious because his heart is full of other than Allah, and he does not find peace in it. And since he knows that he has to pray, (like a necessary burden) and performs the bare minimum uttering with his tongue what is not in his heart, and he thinks to himself, “let us pray and be relieved of the burden of salat…” So this is a person who falls in a totally different category.
To be continued…